As part of our celebrations for Disability History Month, which runs until Saturday 16 December, we’ve introduced our first Workforce Adjustment Coordinator – Rose Gayle (above).
Rose, who has been at our Trust almost 10 years, is delighted to be taking on the role, and is passionate about the difference it will make to colleagues just like her.
She said: “It’s a support role for staff and managers. I will be helping them with our Workplace Adjustments policy, which sets out how we make adjustments to support people with disabilities and long-term conditions at work.
“I’ve had them myself, such as flexible working and software. It’s important I have lived experience so I can empathise with the challenges colleagues are facing, that will really help me in this role. I will be there to support staff in getting adjustments they need, and I want managers to feel they can approach me and ask for help, so we can tackle issues together.”
The policy, which also launched this Disability History Month, is one of the first of its kind in the NHS.
This new role shows just how far Rose, who lost her independence almost overnight following a car accident and once even contemplated suicide, has come.
She has 32 health conditions, including arthritis, fibromyalgia, lymphedema and degenerative discs in her spine, all which came later in life.
Rose, 58, said: “I was physically fit before and played lots of sports. My health issues started in my early 30s when I had an accident at work and was pinned down by machinery. Then I had a car accident in 2004.
“My husband and I were newly married and our son a toddler and we had an accident when going out for a meal and my whole life changed. I was in a wheelchair and didn’t have the strength in my upper body to propel myself due to my other conditions, so I had to be pushed. It was a total loss of independence.”
Rose, who worked for a taxi company after being medically retired from her previous job in 2002, was no longer able to work and the strain on her finances meant she had to go bankrupt.
She added: “I was at home for several years after the car accident and hit rock bottom, I couldn’t see any light at the end of the tunnel.
“After a while I needed to do something, so I completed some courses and started doing the accounts for my son’s judo team. When I wanted to work full time again, I sent off 100s of CVs and it felt like whenever I mentioned my disability, it was a no. Then I got an interview with the social care team at University College London Hospitals. For the first time it felt like they saw me and not my disability, I was offered the job that day. The things I’ve overcome have given me compassion and empathy for others and I hope to use all my experiences so others don’t have the struggles I’ve had.”
Rose, who is co-chairing the NHS Employers Disability Summit this month, has also spoken in Parliament about her experiences and launched her own company offering disability training.